Photos: Timothy 6X

( – Rick Ross and Frank Lucas, two of the most notorious former drug dealers in America, told Chicago youth to stay in school and ignore hustlers on the corner block to avoid the perils of prison and lead a righteously successful life.

Both Mr. Lucas, who is wheelchair-bound, and Mr. Ross, fresh out of prison, were both featured in the BET series, “American Gangster,” but they told their own stories during the “Redefining the American Gangster” seminar during the Nation of Islam’s Saviours’ Day Convention.

Mr. Ross had always watched the event from prison, so to actually appear was a big achievement for him, something he always wanted to do, he said. “I’d never heard about Saviours’ Day before I went to prison. I didn’t know that Black people got together like this. I thought the only place that we got together was on the street corners, gang banging, football, basketball. I didn’t know that civilized, thinking, Blacks got together and when I saw it I couldn’t believe it,” he said.


Ashahed Muhammad, Assistant Editor of The Final Call Newspaper, moderated the primarily Q&A session. “If there’s a group that believes in allowing everyone to tell their story of redemption, I can’t think of a better location and better atmosphere than coming to speak at Saviours’ Day with members of the Nation of Islam and others who have joined us from all across the United States,” Bro. Ashahed said.

The guests took questions about their personal roads to redemption, their current projects and future plans, and personal advice on how to end youth violence.

Mr. Lucas is working on his book, “The Original Gangster,” and he speaks to youth at Ohio State University and various high schools across the country. Mr. Ross is working on a movie about his life and various entrepreneurial projects. Since his release, he has traveled to different cities, speaking to youth, encouraging them to be critical thinkers and make choices that are best for them.

“I couldn’t analyze what was right and what was wrong at one time. We have so many influences pulling us the wrong way and very little pulling us the right way, with the TV, if you don’t have a pair of Nikes, that you ain’t cool if you don’t wear this type of jacket, you ain’t in …. You have to think long term and know what’s going to benefit you in the long run,” Mr. Ross said.

He readily admits that the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan made moving forward to redeem himself very easy by helping him understand that he doesn’t have to look at his past as a negative if he uses it save thousands of other young men and women coming up under the same experience.

“When he told me that I dropped the regret and started looking for the ways that I could use my life to benefit others and hopefully turn somebody else from the way that I went,” Mr. Ross said.

Mr. Lucas expressed remorse for his role in the drug game and said there was nothing that he could do about it now. However, from here on out he will try to straighten things out for the youth, he said.

Frank Muhammad from Jacksonville, Mississippi sought advice from the legends on how to end violence among youth that look up to both of them.

“Go back and tell the kids to go to school. Get their education. Get the hell out the streets and stop listening to the guy on the corner with the gold chain and big Cadillacs and Rolls Royces. Do not let them trick them … Do something for the kids, man. Go help them. Take them to school if you have to,” Mr. Lucas admonished.

“They can’t go the Frank Lucas way no more. If they try it now, they’ll go to jail without possibility of parole and when they come out, it’ll be with a tag on their toe. Believe me,” he added.

Ezekiel Phillips, a former gang member, now a student at Morehouse College, looked for guidance on how to deal with the problems he is experiencing as he continues to try to reform his own life. “I want to continue to lead, love, and save and serve, but at the same time it’s a whole lot of haters, so what advice would you give to me,” he asked.

Mr. Ross encouraged him to walk away from anything that puts his freedom and life in jeopardy. “If your homies don’t want to walk away, you gotta walk past him … If my friends don’t come with me, I’m not going back with them,” he said.